June 27, 2006First, let's consider the title - GRCs make it easier to find top talent. Really? That can't be right. Surely the PAP must already know who you are - your background, your credentials, and so on - before they ask you to run for elections. That's completely irrespective of whether they want you to run in a GRC or a Single Member Constituency. So contrary to the title of the article, GRCs really have nothing to do with helping the PAP to find top talent.
GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM
Without good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politics
By Li Xueying
SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics.
Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'.
'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC).
'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?'
So the issue is not with finding top talent, but with persuading top talent to join the PAP. Why does this difficulty exist? According to SM Goh, this is because:
'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics."A startling admission. I would have though that this is one of those Kinds of Truths Which Must Remain Unspoken. Here SM Goh is openly admitting that the GRC system artificially boosts the chances of the PAP's new candidates. Their election successes cannot be solely attributed to their talent, or their capability, or their rapport with the people or whatever. According to SM Goh, it is the GRC system that gives them "some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election".
Wow - what is SM Goh trying to do here, embarrass MM Lee? When the GRC system was first implemented, I remember MM Lee making all those grand statements in Parliament about how we must ensure that the minority races in Singapore must be protected, and adequately represented in Parliament, and that's why the GRC system is so essential etc. Funny, I really don't remember MM Lee saying anything like this:
"We want to make some huge changes to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore. The electoral system has to be altered so as to enable my political party, the PAP, to have an easier time recruiting younger and capable candidates. Without the GRC system to give them some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, they may not want to risk their careers to join my party."But of course MM Lee didn't say it. Changing the Constitution of a nation so as to facilitate the recruitment strategies of one particular political party just doesn't sound right.
It's also very interesting to see that SM Goh says that his candidates would be risking their careers to enter politics. Bear in mind that if his candidates lose in the election, then basically all they have lost is their time & energy in 9 days of active election campaigning, and perhaps a lot of intensive preparatory work in the preceding two months. There is no risk to their careers. They simply go back to their day jobs after the elections are over. Their greatest loss is probably that they used up all their annual leave for the year.
What if SM Goh's candidates win, whether in an actual electoral contest or by walkover? Well, they become MPs. They do not have to give up their careers. They continue with their usual jobs (doctors, lawyers, businessmen, accountants etc), they are Members of Parliament on top of that (it's not a full-time job) and they are paid an additional - what is it now? - about $14,000 per month to compensate them for their trouble.
So where is the risk to their careers?
I have some thoughts on that, but first I'd like to hear what you readers have to say.
Technorati: Singapore; politics.